Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA
Since the spread of COVID is worsening these days, I hope you will take better care of yourself and others around to stay safe. It’s a different world; especially since the beginning of 2020 we are going through an unprecedented situation due to the pandemic – both in personal and professional life. We all know how difficult this has been to cope up with the impact, starting from cancellation of orders, discounts, deferred payment, non-payment, buyer’s bankruptcy, forced loan and so on. Yet the morale was kept high, and the industry proved its resilience through all the sacrifices our entrepreneurs have made.
Not only has this been a struggle to stay on course, but our industry has continued its efforts and achievements in the area of safety, social and environmental sustainability. The number of LEED-certified RMG factories has increased to 157 now, of which 47 are platinum and 96 are gold rated. At the same time, factories are making considerable investment in the backward and forward linkage industries, upgrading technology and processes, making visible efforts to embrace innovation and add higher values. Through all these efforts in this trying time, we have been able to keep the confidence of the buyers, and the recent growth in export reflects their confidence on us.
As the world is fighting back from COVID, though recovery is faltering, global trade is expected to grow considerably in the year 2022. Well, there are projections like McKinsey&Co. saying that it will take end of 2022 to reach the level of pre-COVID level for the world fashion industry. Yet, the correspondences with the buyers are encouraging, though the struggle in meeting the cost and managing supply chain is there. In this juncture of opportunities and constraints, the shortage of skilled labor force has emerged as a major concern for us recently which is limiting our potential. The need for skilled workers is felt more acutely than ever before. Plus, the technology evolution and the urge to be more efficient and adaptive to 4IR, requires more efforts in skills development. Many new technologies are coming which can make the production process faster, leaner and simpler. We need to re-skill and up-skill our human resources to prepare ourselves for the next challenges.
You are aware that creating a skilled workforce is one of the core priorities of the Government of Bangladesh, and of BGMEA. In collaboration with the government and other stakeholders including development partners BGMEA is engaged in a number of skilled development programs, for existing and new workers. We are also in the process of establishing the “Centre for Innovation, Efficiency and OSH” at our premises. Through these efforts we are trying to facilitate automation, 3D designing, innovation, using the best industrial engineering process and practices, and inspire modular processes.
However, these are not enough. The industry is growing and we have a higher growth vision. I believe a dedicated initiative by each of our factories to train workers will actually complement the whole industry. We must applaud the factories that are already investing in training workers. If other factories take similar initiative and if existing capacities can be scaled up, it is the industry which will be benefitted. In fact workplace based trainings are more effective than classroom training. So I would humbly request all our valued Members to kindly consider this issue and kindly take initiatives to train people – both workers and supervisor level, and for existing and future skill needs. Let us build our own strength to pursue our vision.